What is an Aboriginal view concerning asylum seekers? Ironically, while mainstream Australia quakes at the prospect of the “great invasion” by leaky boats, our first peoples (who have an outstanding and legitimate claim to having been invaded by “boat people”) are more accommodating. Here is a brilliant speech by Lowitja O’Donoghue: Return to Afghanistan: resettlement or refoulment?. Temporary Protection Visas are history now, but they are replaced by an even more draconian detention regime and the “Malaysian” solution which reignites the threat of dangerous refoulment (returning refugees to the place of origin).
Is it only those who have experienced oppression that can show compassion for the oppressed? I believe not – but in this NAIDOC week we can reflect on what makes us human together – and it often takes those whom we soporifically marginalise to wake us up.